The Guild Society / Theatre

The Guild Society in a non-profit charitable society which has been producing community theatre productions in Whitehorse for three decades.

A group of actors on stage

Young Frankenstein At The Guild

Young Frankenstein, based on the book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, is coming to Whitehorse.

Dreary and Izzy at the Guild

This May, Whitehorse’s Guild Hall is presenting Dreary and Izzy, a play by Tara Beagan which centres on a pair of sisters who have lost their parents in a car accident.

Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing is a delightfully funny play about depression, but it’s not depressing. It’s also no surprise that the Guild theatre’s first indoor play of the season is about connection.

The shows must go on!

Yukon theatre companies are finding creative ways to present work. Adapting shows and developing unique formats to fit with our new reality.

Anger and innocence

Claire Ness was only six (or maybe seven) when she first saw the dark Canadian comedy called The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine. Still, it left a lasting impression, in part, because that Nakai Theatre production in the early 1990s starred her father, Roy Ness, and fellow Whitehorse actor/musician Trish Barclay in the title roles.

Shakespeare in hiding

Sir Tom Stoppard is one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights and screenwriters, known for rapid-fire dialogue that also carries deep philosophical truths. Apart from his screenplay for Shakespeare in Love, he is perhaps best-known for his Tony Award-winning play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a philosophical comedy that brings two minor characters in Hamlet into the limelight. A quarter century ago, Whitehorse …

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Subversive and sexy

After an absence of two decades, eight low-rent vaudevillians trying to evade the secret police in their homeland have returned to Whitehorse. The Guild Theatre opens its 2019/20 season this week with a remount of the wacky comedy, El Crocodor, written by Vancouver playwright Peter Anderson.  Describing it as “just the most ridiculous show,” director Allyn Walton …

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Musical time travel

[two_third] With the stage still in darkness, a disembodied voice expresses the speaker’s dislike for plays that require theatre-goers to interact with performers who break the traditional fourth wall. When the lights rise on the latest Guild Theatre production, the speaker does precisely that, by addressing the audience directly. For the duration of the evening, …

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Unexpected Paths

When the Guild Theatre’s artistic director, Brian Fidler, invited her to direct Durang’s wildly successful 2012 comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, McLean leapt at the opportunity. 

Searching for a way out

Genevieve Fleming is counting on Whitehorse audiences to take in the upcoming Guild Theatre production, even if just to indulge in some cold-weather Schadenfreude. In one sense, the Vancouver-based director suggested in an interview, staging French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 play, No Exit, is like holding a mirror up to our own society. “We, the …

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Downfall of a Salesman

The Guild Theatre will launch its 2018–19 season this week with Lawrence and Holloman, a darkly hilarious two-hander by award-winning Canadian playwright Morris Panych. First produced at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre in 1998, it later inspired a film by the same name, starring Ben Cotton and Daniel Arnold, which drew mixed critical and box office response. …

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Serving laughs straight from the oven

The Whitehorse comedy scene is on a roll as of late. One of the events that has helped cultivate this resurgence has been Baked Laughs, the stand-up nights presented monthly at Baked Café.

Spelling it out

Mary Sloan was only vaguely aware of the 2005 smash Broadway musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, when she learned that the Guild Theatre’s artistic director, Brian Fidler, had picked it as this year’s season finale.

A weekend of laughs

The Yukon stand-up comedy scene can be fickle. Some years comics will perform to packed houses that turn people away at the door. Other years, not so much. Whether it’s a lack of comics, audience, or both, northern life can bring a number of challenges that make live comedy difficult to maintain. Richard Eden, George …

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Stand up for Stephen McGovern

On March 9, Yukon comic Stephen McGovern will be gearing up to take the stage at the Just for Laughs Northwest comedy festival in Vancouver. The 10-day event beginning March 1 offers a wide variety of shows that highlight Canadian and international comedy. McGovern makes his Just for Laughs debut performing in The Outsiders Comedy show, which …

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Hand to God

Lust, grief, denial and repression (not to mention demonic possession) in the bible-belt town of Cypress, Texas. Oh, yes. Don’t forget the puppets. These are all elements of the Guild Theatre’s upcoming production of Hand to God, a dark comedy by Robert Askins, who actually grew up in the Houston-area community in which he set …

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Chance or choice?

Is it character, circumstance, or the choices we make that determines our lot in life?
This is the conundrum that lies at the heart of Good People.

Debaters Bound

Whitehorse comedian Jenny Hamilton will be performing live on the CBC Radio One show The Debaters in North Vancouver on Nov. 22

All the world’s a stage

Morris, an improv teacher and artistic director of The Paper Street Theatre company in Victoria, B.C. was giving a talk at a TedX event in 2012 about “The way of Improv,” much to the audience’s delight. In the crowd that evening was Shahin Mohammadi.

The fear is real…

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys creepy strolls through dark spaces with ghouls and goblins festering around every corner, perhaps it’s time to head to The Guild Hall in Porter Creek, as the Guild Society is preparing to scare the wits out of you at its annual haunted house of horror. The event …

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Good Night, Good Morning

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s award-winning comedy Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) has been around for almost 30 years, but Brian Fidler and Clare Preuss are convinced it will still play well to contemporary Whitehorse audiences. “I think it appeals to the core audience of the Guild that likes a good Canadian classic show, and that loves Shakespeare,” …

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Is she or isn’t she?

We all wear our identities in various ways to show the world what tribe we belong to. Go to Toronto and you will see the Bay Street brokers in their slick-cut suits; go to Vancouver and you can tell the granolas by their hippie, back-to-the-land attire. Sexual-orientation-wise, it is usually just as easy to spot …

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Splattering Comedy

Whitehorse, it seems, has such an insatiable appetite for high-camp horror that the Guild Theatre has added another week to its run of Evil Dead: The Musical. The spring break-themed romp comes with a caution: if you intend to sit in the first few rows, be prepared for laundry afterward. You’ll be in what’s called …

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Hang on, George

Christmas Eve, 1946. Several actors huddle around their microphones, live-broadcasting a radio station’s seasonal drama, complete with commercial intervals and a touch of Yuletide music. The story they are dramatizing concerns a well-meaning chap from a small town, struggling to save his deceased father’s savings and loan company from bankruptcy. His world is collapsing, because …

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Roller Coaster

From Beirut to Buffalo, then Whitehorse. That’s how Clare Preuss sums up the summer of 2016 from her standpoint as an itinerant stage director. The Toronto-based actor, choreographer and director is currently in the Yukon to steer the Guild Theatre’s season-opener, Myth of the Ostrich. Although the Matt Murray comedy was a standout hit at …

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Who’s Line is it Anyway?

Expect the unexpected. This is good advice for both performers and audience at a typical improv event. Mind you, “typical” is a misnomer for a genre defined by having a unique performance every time. If you’ve ever had a yen to create one-of-a-kind, hilarious scenes, get yourself to the Guild Hall every Tuesday at 8 …

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New Artistic Director used to couch surf at The Guild Hall

One of Brian Fidler’s first memories of the Yukon is sleeping on the couch at The Guild Hall. He had just arrived in town and – without a car – would hitchhike to rehearsals of El Crocodor, his first Yukon theatre experience. From those early years, Fidler spent a lot of time at The Guild. …

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Gearing Up for Yukomicon 2017

A comic-con is an annual event where sci-fi lovers congregate to pay homage to super heroes/villains/authors/actors/producers who help bring this genre to life on the big screen/small screen and comic pages. Cities in North America and around the world host comic-cons, with San Diego being the most popular on this continent. There is typically something …

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It’s Not Off Script If There Isn’t A Script

Theatre-goers, is your relationship with plays getting a little humdrum? Are you looking for more spontaneity in your live-performances? Are you tired of rehearsed scripts, structured plot lines and carefully planned story arcs? Then maybe it’s time to open your mind to other, less “vanilla” theatre going experiences at try a little improv. You can …

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A New Theatre Company in Town

As winter carries on, theatre lovers will have the opportunity to warm their cold bodies with laughter in a brand new black box theatre when long time Yukon Arts mainstay Katherine McCallum unveils her new production company Larrikin Entertainment with the black comedy Often I find Myself Naked by Australian playwright Fiona Sprott. McCallum, a …

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How did Charlie Brown and his friends make out?

On October 1st The Guild Hall Society will kick off its  2015/16 season with Bert V. Royal’s dark comedy Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. The play is considered an unauthorized parody of the iconic Peanuts characters created by Charles M. Schulz. The story imagines the gang as teenagers with all the ups, …

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Dramaturgy

Last Friday I met with David Skelton, the artistic director of Nakai Theatre, and DD Kugler, a renowned Canadian dramaturge. A dramaturge, which is an unpleasant word, functions as an advisor to a playwright. Such a person raises concerns, make suggestions, and sometimes draws thick red lines through vast swaths of dialogue. Both the above-mentioned …

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Puppets, Comedy, and Gore

Whitehorse has an awesome art scene. This month, The Guild will try to make it more awesome when its production of Cannibal! The Musical hits the stage. The play, which is based on the film of the same name, has been circulating North America for over 15 years, to rave reviews. The story is centered …

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Gearing up for Cannibal

Am I excited. In April I’ll be acting in the Guild Society’s newest play, Cannibal the Musical written by Trey Parker of South Park fame. The show is based on the true story of American prospector, Alferd Packer and his ill-fated expedition into the Colorado mountains in 1873. I recommend it to anyone who wants …

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Sibling Revelry

Brigitte and Caroline Desjardins-Allatt were well into elementary school before learning about their father’s musical past — and the instruments stashed in the family garage. “Before he met my mother, he used to play a lot of music with his ex,” Brigitte Desjardins explains. “Then she had an accident and died, and I think my …

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The Guild presents Dedication

Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams, playing at the Guild Hall until December 6, is a love letter to theatre in an era when it needs all the love it can get. Set in the dilapidated remains of a once-grand playhouse — the kind with balconies — Dedication focuses on the aspirations of …

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Terror and Terpsichore

Don’t say you haven’t been warned. From October 28 to November 1, the Guild Hall will be chockablock with fire, brimstone, and all kinds of devilish mayhem. In addition to its annual Haunted House fright-fest, this year the Guild is joining forces with the Varietease burlesque troupe to co-produce a music-and-dance extravaganza that’s too hot …

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The Shape of all Sorts of Things

The Shape of Things, which runs every night at the Guild Hall in Porter Creek until October 11, continues playwright Neil Labute’s reputation for blunt depictions of men and women at war with each other. Four students, played by Santana Barryman, Jeff Charles, Rowan Dunne, and Andrea Bois, navigate their way through gender politics and …

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Taxicab Theatre

Gab in a cab, do time in the hole, or ponder what lies behind schoolyard shootings. These are just some of the options available to audience members as Nakai Theatre presents version six of its Homegrown Theatre Festival next week at the Guild Hall. The lineup of 12 local shows runs the gamut from a …

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Strangely Funny, but True

Anthony Trombetta’s first act as new artistic director at the Guild Theatre was to throw out the rule book. Instead of a conventional play, the black box theatre in Porter Creek has been playing host this month to standup comics, a hypnotist and even a magician. Strange But True, which runs until Saturday, April 26, …

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Family, Change, and Acceptance

Torontonian Clinton Walker has flown into the Yukon to direct another play at The Guild Hall. The new production The Book of Esther, by Leanna Brodie, is his fifth directorial project in five years up here. And this one hits pretty close to home for Walker. Set in the early 1980s, The Book of Esther …

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Spooky Noises are Okay, but No More Showing Up in the Flesh

Imagine working alone in an older building where, on occasion, people have seen ghosts, heard them walking around, and had them messing with their stuff. It’s not that freaky as long as you don’t believe in ghosts. Jenny Hamilton is the Guild’s general manager, and she’s a general skeptic. However, when she saw a ghost …

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Syphilis Spreads like Wildfire: Peter Jickling’s Play Syphilis: A Love Story wins comedy award

It’s difficult to resist making puns about the title of the award-winning play Syphilis: A Love Story by Whitehorse playwright, and What’s Up Yukon assistant editor, Peter Jickling. Jokes like, “I caught syphilis at the Guild Hall last week,” or, “I caught syphilis with your mom.” Or how about, “I wanted to catch syphilis, but …

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Staging local talent

As the sunshine creeps into the evening and temperatures slowly rise toward double-digits, some art organizations’ seasons are winding down. One of the final accomplishments in focus for Nakai Theatre is a barrage of local performance artists. Also affectionately known as the Homegrown Festival. “It’s emerging artists, first-time artists and artists who are devoting their …

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Comedy from a Sleep-Depraved Mind

I’m finally getting some good sleep these days. Recently, I was stage-managing the incredible Varietease show at the Guild: a cavalcade of comedy, song and, indeed, titillation. This basically amounted to many long evenings that blended into each other as we moved closer and closer to show time. By the time we were nearing the …

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A sex farce well told

Colin Heath was chatting online with Eric Epstein, the artistic director of The Guild. They were playing Scrabulous at the time because they both love words. So, when Epstein typed in the invitation to Heath to come to Whitehorse to direct What the Butler Saw, Heath accepted … because he loves words. “I love the …

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We get the theatre we deserve

When you think of plays, you think of The Guild and Nakai Theatre. More and more people are thinking of Music Arts and Drama at the Wood Street Centre as the high-schoolers in the experiential program put on beloved plays for the general public. However, not enough people are thinking of Moving Parts Theatre. This …

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If a drag queen falls in the forest …

Last year’s Nakai Theatre Pivot Festival was not well-received. It featured a blind comic who portrayed cancer. It had a snow-shovelling demonstration. A sexualized Betty Rubble. A lonely, lonely lounge singer. A human piñata. Nakai Theatre wanted to bring out-of-the-box, professional theatre to the Yukon … and it did. But it wasn’t appreciated by the …

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Brian Fidler did it!

There is a moment in Becky Mode’s Fully Committed when Brian Fidler’s character, Sam, gives his father some disappointing news over the telephone. The entire audience tenses up. It was only one of many wonderful dialogues, so it cannot be considered a “magical moment”, but it was certainly a moment when the magic of this …

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One actor, 37 characters

“I don’t want someone who can do 37 voices,” says director David Mackay. “I want 37 characters.” Therein lies the magic he hopes to capture with local actor Brian Fidler when they team up to present Fully Committed at the Guild Hall Feb. 5 to 21. Fidler needs to present 37 characters in this one-man …

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Chicago Comes North

The longest running American musical in Broadway history opens this week at the Guild Hall’s Black Box Theatre in Porter Creek, where it will play five nights per week throughout the month. Chicago, originally written in 1926 during the Prohibition-era, revolves around criminal Roxy Hart and the murder of her boyfriend. Written by reporter Maurine …

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Get Out and Guild

Imagine you are sitting at your computer at home, one evening. Despite the fact that it’s minus 27 outside, it’s snowing – again. As if we need more snow … Enough already. Christmas parties and presents are a distant memory and spring may never arrive if what’s happening on the other side of your window …

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Bold, dark theatre returns

After a decade of collecting dust in the Guild Society office, the script for Cabaret is finally being used and will be presented at the Guild Hall, April 2 to 18. The rights were purchased in the ’90s, but the Guild Society’s artistic director, Eric Epstein, was unable to find a suitable male lead. It …

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Bring the funny … or else

After intense immersion in comedy last winter in Toronto, George Maratos has returned with a program that is making its second appearance Thursday night. The Stand Up Stand Off begins with a number of comics riffing on the same topic for two minutes. The audience decides who will go to the second round to present …

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Supporting the art of dance

As far as this paper’s mandate reaches – arts, culture, entertainment and recreation – the biggest news of the week is the creation of the Society of Yukon Independent Dance Artists. It is big news because it addresses a major unfairness in the Yukon: the lack of resources and opportunities for local dancers. Sure, we …

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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

With both the Nakai and Moving Parts theatres scaling back on productions for a season of development, Eric Epstein sees the role of the Guild Society as all that more important. “We are certainly the ones to look at classic repertoire and contemporary repertoire,” says the Guild’s artistic director. “We just want to get the …

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No one can shock with such delight

In 1962, it was shocking and titillating. Though the Pulitzer Prize committee handed it a Pulitzer, it was revoked for language, for sexual situations. When it ran an England tour, Lord Chamberlain made the playwright, Edward Albee, change the swear words, “Jesus Christ” to “Cheese God.” Half sarcastically, Albee asked, “What about saying Mary M. …

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A play without boundaries

After presenting Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, one of the most well-known plays of the post-modern era, the Guild Theatre follows with the world premiere of Yukon writer Patti Flather’s play, The Soul Menders. This play has no theatre history, no reputation, no guide and, for Chris McGregor, the director, it has no boundaries. And …

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Looking Forward

I recently attended the Gay and Lesbian Alliance AGM. It was the first meeting in a year. The turnout was really promising and a new board was formed made up of 11 enthusiastic people, the majority of which are male. It should be an interesting board as it has never had a male majority before. …

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Comics Can’t Take a Joke

There’s been a bit of drama going on in the comedy world I now live in. A certain headlining comic was caught red-handed (mouthed?) stealing material from two other comics. Both jokes were told on stage word-for-word, so there’s absolutely no doubt that this was a case of parallel thought. Different comics coming up with …

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Walker’s Laramie Project shows the triumph of community

Clinton Walker, the director brought up from Toronto for The Laramie Project, has made me chili. Little triangles of toasted bread sit next to the bowl. Walker is staying at the Almost Home Bed and Breakfast, a cute B&B in Valleyview. He’s been here for six weeks now. In some ways, Whitehorse has become another …

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Giant Rat finally treated as honoured citizen (psst … go see this musical)

Everyone loves a “lovable rogue”. In the Guild Society’s musical comedy, The Man From the Capital, you get 20 rogues to pick from. The plot is simple: it’s a case of mistaken identity. The townspeople expect a government inspector to come and evaluate their use of federal money. The schmuck who stumbles into town, penniless …

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The Men Behind The Boys

The Guild will open its season this week with the Canadian premiere of The Boys, written by Kris Elgstrand. Elgstrand and Brad Dryborough, the play’s director and Elgstrand’s “longtime production partner,” agree that it’s a simple play. With a lot going on. Each of the “three characters, in one room, in real time” has one …

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Epstein leaves, stage right

Eric Epstein and I are sitting in the black box — the creative centre of the Guild Theatre — the room that can become anything, which has become everything. He reflects back on his last 10 years with the Guild. As he steps out of the position, he recalls the first show he did in …

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Artistic transitions: McCallum enters, stage left

Katherine McCallum is sitting on the couches of the Guild Hall, the place the audience gathers before a show begins, that place of anticipation. She’s talking to me about magic. “Theatre magic. It’s why I wanted to produce in the first place. But producing happened to me. When you’re an actor in a big city, …

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Laramie Project delivers stunning ensemble work

I gave Justine Davidson, the theatre reviewer for the Whitehorse Star, a long hug at the end of The Laramie Project, the Guild Society/GALA play. Both of us were near tears. She said over my shoulder, “Does this mean it’s good when the journalists are crying?” We weren’t the only ones moved. But don’t let …

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Seriously Hilarious

Margaret Thatcher. Genocide. Venereal disease. Personal betrayal. These are not the standard fare of romantic comedy. But in the deft hands of Whitehorse playwright Peter Jickling, they become wickedly funny. With Syphilis: A Love Story, Jickling has hit the exact tone for the rom-com genre. As a love story, it comes perilously close to being …

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Turning Hollywood Upside Down

It’s 6:05 on a Sunday morning, and she has a play opening in only six days. So why is Sarah Rodgers sitting in the airport waiting for a flight to Vancouver? Well, so she can spend her day off with Poppy, her 13-month-old adopted daughter from Vietnam. “I feel like a jet-setter,” she quips. Rodgers …

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Guild goes ‘Into the Woods’ and gets its wish: Magic

Just in time for spring, the Guild brings us Into the Woods. Thank you. It’s a refreshing, colourful splash after a long, cold winter. This is a solid performance by a great cast. Into the Woods has a very small libretto—which makes the cast’s accomplishment even more worthy of admiration. Nearly everything is sung. They …

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A Different Face of Mamet

In graduate school, Stephen Drover “dabbled” with the work of American playwright David Mamet, but he had never directed a full Mamet play. So when the Guild Theatre’s artistic director, Katherine McCallum, told him of the Guild’s plans for a professional co-production with Sour Brides Theatre of Mamet’s 1999 play, Boston Marriage, Drover was definitely …

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Honest Talk Cafe

How can one person transform herself into many people? How can one location turn into several without changing a thing? Go and see Café Daughter and you’ll find out. Somehow, this one-woman show, based on a true story of an ethnically mixed young girl growing up in Saskatchewan, manages to pull it off. Dawson City had the …

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Into the Playground

Director Gerald Isaac thinks a playground makes an ideal setting for the Guild Theatre’s production of the musical comedy Into the Woods, which opens next week. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, the play has been a favourite of community and school theatre groups since its Broadway premiere in …

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Venality vs Purity in Tinseltown

The strength of most plays by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet lies in his characters, the moral murk in which they often exist and, above all, the laser-like precision of his dialogue. With the possible exception of his screenplay, Wag the Dog, plot is not Mamet’s long suit. Speed-The-Plow, his 1988 satire about the shallowness and …

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Loaded for Laughs

It’s the night of the first big snowfall, and that sound you’re hearing is the explosion of standup comedy in Whitehorse. At the Jarvis Street Saloon, it’s round three of the Punchline Punchout, a competition that pits five teams of comics against each other in five-minute sets, followed by an elimination round of impromptu rants …

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Young man of many parts

It’s not always easy for a 19-year-old to decide what to do next; especially a 19-year-old like Graham Rudge. Should an award-winning year at art school be followed by a mechanical engineering degree, or a stint at circus school? Of course, that would have to be after a semester learning how to be a butcher. …

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Review: Bubbles of Self-Delusion

Don’t expect deep truths about the human condition from the Guild Theatre’s latest offering, The Food Chain. Don’t expect a plot that’s more than paper-thin. Don’t even expect characters that are anything but stereotypes, deliberately pushed to the point of caricature by a playwright deft enough to pull it off. What you can expect, unless …

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Step this way for hilarity

We meet our Canadian protagonist, Richard Hannay, played by George Maratos, in his West End London flat. It’s the mid-Thirties and he’s bored. So he decides to go to the theatre. This cures his boredom. It will cure yours. In Hannay’s case, a mysterious woman takes a seat next to him, shoots into the ceiling …

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A Comedy of Obsession

When the Guild Theatre’s artistic director, Katherine McCallum, was choosing this year’s season, she may not have known playwright Nicky Silver was about to hit the big time. After two decades of writing successfully for off-off-Broadway, then off-Broadway, Silver will finally penetrate the Great White Way this month with his newest work, The Lyons. “I …

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Comedy Dominates in Venus

The play is new. The book that inspired it is 142 years old. The song dates back to the Summer of Love. The kinky proclivity all three works explore may be as old as time. Venus in Fur, the David Ives play that opened Off-Broadway to much acclaim in 2010 before moving to the Great …

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Spying on the Neighbours

When Martin McDonagh’s play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, first emerged in 1996, the 23-year-old playwright was quickly caught up in a storm of controversy. “There were a lot of Irish who thought this was just the most offensive, stereotypical thing to come across the border since the original English invasion,” explains Clinton Walker, who …

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